Beloved by gamers and critics alike, the shoot-and-loot first-person-shooter RPG, Borderlands, is getting another entry in its franchise. While it's not Borderlands 3, veteran vault hunters will be able to play a "sandwich sequel" this fall on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will take place between the events of the original Borderlands and Borderlands 2, weaving a narrative that aims to explain Handsome Jack's transformation into the suave villain he's become in Borderlands 2.
Gearbox Software President Randy Pitchford told me over the phone that The Pre-Sequel should "fulfill some wishes and hopefully surprise people." Perhaps most surprising out of the gate is that Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel will bring players to the mysterious moon base that floats in the backdrop of so much of the series' environments. For the first time, players will actually leave Pandora.
The four playable characters are also worth noting, especially since players will have the option of taking part as the robot Claptrap, the series' most iconic character. Other characters include Athena the Gladiator (Borderlands 1 DLC), Wilhelm the Enforcer (a Borderlands 2 boss), and Nisha the Lawbringer (sheriff of Lynchwood in Borderlands 2).
So what's new in Borderlands: The Pre-Sequel? Pitchford explained that because of the moon base's environment, oxygen is going to be a major commodity in the game. Players will also have access to a smattering of new moves as well as jetpacks and ice and laser weapons. "You'll be able to shoot ice bullets at an enemy -- and if you hit them enough, you can actually shatter them into ice cubes."
Pitchford went on to tell me that the Pre-Sequel has been in development for a little more than a year and that the team at 2K Australia has been using the Borderlands 2 engine. With BioShock Infinite behind them, the studio has focused all attention on the Pre-Sequel, in a sort of tandem development with Gearbox Software. Pitchford explained that Australia was able to bring new items and mechanics to the game and that development has benefited thanks to having a fresh set of eyes working on the title.
Of course this sequel makes sense, even if Pitchford had previously claimed there was no work being done on a Borderlands 3. That was technically true, though a sequel of sorts was being worked on. Pitchford says it was important to not promise a Borderlands 3 because the assumption with that kind of announcement would then need to be a "next-gen" experience.
Borderlands 2 is the best-selling title in the history of 2K Games, with sales exceeding 8.5 million units. A lot of that is thanks to the game's remarkable added value support with a seemingly endless array of DLC. I asked Pitchford if The Pre-Sequel will get that same kind of treatment. "I really hope so, but there's no plan yet."